Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ALWAYS Look Fashionable When You're Struck By Lightening, Playing Croquet.

     At the last minute I decided I would participate in yet one more of Threadless's Fall Selection Challenges.  It was to design a pattern for either a Men's Button Down Dress/Casual Dress Shirt and a Women's Summer/Sun Dress.
 I really wasn't going to participate in this particular part of the design challenge as I am more an Illustrator than a Graphic Designer so my designs always have a more Illustrious quality to them.  In other words I end up complicating something more so than simplifying it at times and patterns are usually meant to be simple.  At least these were.

[SKULLYWAGS. Design by TenTimesKarma]

     I was just casually going through the submissions for that challenge when I saw this REALLY NEAT and COLORFUL Skull pattern.  I was So Hypnotized my it's beauty and simplicity that it inspired me to create a pattern myself and see if I could apply it to the Fall Selection.  Alas, I must confess I think the end results were not as inspired as the beginning concepts that guided them, but with less than a week to produce, display and submit them.... I didn't do too terribly bad.

     I ended up with two patterns. One I used for a Men's shirt, the other for a Women's dress.

     First is the Ole Ball and Mallet, obviously a nod to the old phrase,"Old Ball and Chain."  I pattern about relationships.  I think that people have a strange kindred spirit with the clothes they choose to purchase and wear.  The word "style" I don't feel quite describes it.  Why do we gravitate towards particular colors or icons?  Does it have to do with proximity to the ocean or the moon, as astrology would suggest most of our other behaviors.  Does it have to do with when we were born?  I wanted to explore this with a pattern as our relationships with objects and other people seem to more likely than not, create patterns.

     Again I started with the Inspiration Board Threadless posted for the challenge.  Croquette is one of the objects and activities featured in the image.  I looked through the other submissions to see if what I was going to do with the subject hadn't already been done.  I didn't want to waste time copying someone else' idea.

     At first, I wasn't sure how I should approach it visually, I did see that all of the other croquet related submissions were completely drawn in the computer and were very very simple, graphically, and were clean and mainstream (which is completely OK and great.  I'm not implying that they were bad submissions.  Actually they were amazing designs. I almost decided not to work with croquet at all, they were so good.)  My point is that NO ONE had taken the organic and more illustrative approach to a pattern design, like I was wanting to... which was GRRRREAT!

     I had very little planning and execution time so I decided to begin with just sketching the basic game equipment directly in ink.  I figured that since I wasn't needing mainstream-line-clean, flawed drawing and wonky lines and scratchy mistakes were completely more on the side of perfect for this particular concept.  I ended up going with the first thing I sketched out: One Ball and One Mallet.
Symbolically they represent a couple.  I then scanned in my ink drawing and sent it through a vectorizing program to convert my raster drawing into a vector one.  For my readers who are not so familiar with why I would go through this process, Most patterns for fabric or other products are usually created in a vector program like Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw.  It's a format needed for the product design and textile industries.  That said, I now had my main elements to build a pattern with.

     Relationships with a lover or even with other people involve different degrees of proximity.  I literally used this concept to build my aesthetic.  I balanced a cluster of elements against a large singular element.  Croquet is played in several shades of how proximate the various game equipment is to one another... I thought the very same with Human Relationships.
I thought a Cross and diamond shape (referencing the argyle pattern) would be a nice way to cluster my "close proximity" element to my pattern.  It seemed to SCREAM Ivy League, Argyle does... at least in my own head.  So the mallets lain cross each other and the balls configured in a close diamond around the open space seemed like an obvious and good fit.  Then the singular shape would be just a larger Croquet ball.  Configuring this was the easy part.  The more difficult decision for this pattern was really color.

     I'll be absolutely honest, I HATED the choice of fabric color the dresses could be printed on. I'm not sure how much crack the Threadless Designer(s) who made that decision was(were) smoking, but as a good friend of mine would put it, plainly,"It Ain't A-Workin'."  So I really went through several color modifications and was truly waffley in the most accurate sense of the word.
As I didn't have much planning time for this last minute participation, I didn't really have a solid and conceptually sound color scheme prepared based on the color options Threadless had given... The design I wanted to do was more bold in color to represent human relationships, but I found the Fall Selection color palette a bit lackluster and fallen short of something useful.  So I made a lot of mistakes in this phase as you can see.  I even flip-flopped around on the size of the pattern and if I should create bands of larger versions of the basic repeating pattern adjacent to bands of smaller closely knit versions of the pattern.

     I'm still not really pleased with the overall results of this pattern, but went with it due to deadline restrictions... I then needed to create an attractive display for the pattern... I confess again, I was SO VERY tired when I put the first one together. I longed for completion of the project as
I wasn't really happy with the aesthetics of the final result of the effort and wanted to go ahead and put it behind me and work on something else.  I also had some up with a clever title for my pattern and a nice visual title to include in the display.  Catchy titles get people to stop and consider voting for your design on the site.  So I thought the Ole Ball and Mallet might get some people's attention.  It certainly alludes to what my pattern might be about, conceptually.

     I eventually created a better display for the patterns the following day after much needed rest and deliberation.  I had previously stayed up for about 2 days in a row, living on 2 hour naps sporadically littered throughout the day and ALOT of 5-Hour Energy Drinks.  What was I thinking!?!?!

     I had a brilliant Idea of how to "Model" my patterns.  I am a huge movie buff and thought it would be fun to use famous classic shots of famous classic stars from a few famous classic films.  I would leave everything in Black and White with the exception of my pattern as it would look on the garment.  I eventually had to delete the Movie Star images from the display. Apparently even if it's just a preliminary display just for voting, you can't use the copyrighted images.  I assumed since it was just for voting, it would be fine. It wasn't going to be published on their site if it was selected for printing, so I don't really see what harm it would have caused.  Anyway, you can see the Ole Ball and Mallet it's all it's Hollywood debut glory here, at my sketchblog.  As you can see, I also made changes to how I was going to flow the pattern on the fabric as well as changed the Display Title a bit, too.

     Relationships are tricky things, and I should have thought about that particular characteristic before making human relationships my inspiration and subject matter for the pattern as it CERTAINLY was very tricky to work with.

     The second pattern I put together was Lightening in a bottle, which was an idea pulled from my Idea Journal. It was from an entry over a year old and It was an idea I wanted to create, though I think I may revisit the idea again, in future, as I was also a bit disappointed with the outcome of this one.  The basis for the idea was, originally to create an iconic image of Lightening in a bottle balancing both positive and negative space.
I thought this idea was clever as electricity (lightening) involves the flow of both negative and positive currents.  A graphic representation of capturing inspiration itself and the fantasy of being able to possibly bottle it.  Here is the jotted doodle/note for myself for future development.
Often this is what my idea journal consists of: little vaguely readable thumbnail drawings attached to a large body of description telling my future self what to do to create it.  If you're not already carrying around an idea journal, artists, get one.  I like Moleskin, preferably for mine ;0)

     To be ABSOLUTELY honest with myself, this idea had nothing to do with clothing and the journal entry about it conveyed it's purpose was no more than just a graphic. I had entered no possible use for it in my journal entry.
As you can see, just like the lack of planning for Ball and Mallet, Lightening In A Bottle Also suffered several overhauls in color choice, lightening bolt shape, bottle shapes, display title changes, etc. You can see here a WIP of building the pattern, I wanted the bottles to tilt to bring a sense of movement and dynamic to the pattern.
I also toyed with changing a specific area of the pattern to create a larger lightening bolt pattern.  I ended up going with a variation of the first attempt.  I did find the color scheme to be harmonious, however, I'm still not certain that this icon of the lightening in a bottle was right for the project. 

     After I decided I could no longer work on the pattern, I put together a display also utilizing the same Hollywood Model idea and set my two pattern submissions up like a dyptic.  Unfortunately, these patterns did not create much enthusiasm in the competition.
In hindsight, I feel I was too close to the project to know if it was good work or not, even by my standards and I'm thinking the pattern were rushed and could definitely use work, though in their new incarnation, I'm not certain what I will use them in.  Who know, huh.

      In any case this concludes my most recent adventures into designing for Threadless.com and as par for the course have still not cracked into their clique of printed designers and illustrators. But, I will keep at it I'm sure, here and there submitting something to them to see how it goes.  I'm curious to see who actually was printed for this competition as very few people scored high in the voting area.

Until next time
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed reading about the whole process to create these. Amazing Lewis!